April 18th, 2010
05:29 PM ET
12 years ago

McConnell explains Wall Street meeting with Cornyn

Washington (CNN) – A day after President Obama sought to use a closed-door meeting between Wall Street leaders and two top Senate Republicans as political ammunition in the battle over financial regulatory reform, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to explain the meeting.

In a rare move, Obama used his weekly internet and radio address to single out McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn, who leads the GOP's effort to elect Republicans to the Senate in November.

Related: Obama touts financial reform

The changes sought by Democrats "have not exactly been welcomed by the people who profit from the status quo – as well their allies in Washington," Obama said in his address. "This is probably why the special interests have spent a lot of time and money lobbying to kill or weaken the bill. Just the other day, in fact, the leader of the Senate Republicans and the chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue.

"Lo and behold, when he returned to Washington, the Senate Republican Leader came out against the common-sense reforms we've proposed."

Asked about the meeting on CNN's State of the Union Sunday , McConnell rejected any suggestion that the meeting was used to craft ways to block financial regularly reform. Ultimately, McConnell said Cornyn was there because he will be voting on the reform legislation.

"Did the meeting take place?," CNN Chief Political Correspondent and State of the Union anchor Candy Crowley asked McConnell. "What was the conversation?"

"Well, we certainly didn't talk about blocking the bill," the Kentucky Republican replied. "I don't know anybody who's in favor of blocking this bill."

McConnell added, "I thought [the president] wanted us to have a bipartisan bill. That's what I would like to have. We are in the process of gathering information from people all across the country, from Wall Street to Main Street to try to get advice about doing this right."

McConnell also said that he met recently with bankers in his home state who oppose the current version of the financial reform bill.

Pressed by Crowley about how Cornyn's involvement, at least created the appearance that Republicans were playing politics with the issue of reform, McConnell denied Obama's accusation.

"Well, look, we were talking about financial regulation, as everybody in the country is talking about it," the top Senate Republican said. "Most of the people in New York supported the president, the vast majority of them are on his side. They supported him during the election, they still support him. Is he saying we shouldn't sit down with his supporters and talk about a bill that he thinks we ought to pass and that I think we ought to pass? This is absurd, he..."

"Why was Sen. Cornyn there?," Crowley queried.

"Candy, [Obama] is the one who is trying to politicize this issue. We are the ones who are trying to get it right," he replied.

Crowley pressed McConnell again about Cornyn's attendance at the meeting. "But what did the Wall Street people tell you?"

"Well, they have concerns about the bill," the Senate minority leader explained, adding that he thought the Senate ought to "go back to the drawing board" and fix the legislation.

"Let me try one more time," Crowley volleyed. "Why was Sen. Cornyn in that meeting of all of the other senators you could have taken with you?"

"Sen. Cornyn is a United States senator from Texas," McConnell explained. "He is going to be voting on this issue like all the rest of us are. Simply because we are all involved in politics, as is the president, it doesn't mean that we can't discuss issues with people that we meet around the country who are deeply involved and concerned about what we are doing."

Later on State of the Union, Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, called on McConnell and Senate Republicans to propose alternatives to the component of the bill they have been voicing objections to in the past week. All 41 Senate Republicans have said they oppose the legislation as it currently stands but the White House signaled late last week that it is open to changes to the bill.

Related: Congress divided over financial reform bill

Filed under: Extra • John Cornyn • Mitch McConnell • Popular Posts • Wall Street
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. Barbara

    If you watched Candy's interview this morning with McConnell, you could see him flinch... he tried to work around it... but kudos to Candy... she got him to say that yes the fund would be paid for by Wall Street.. BUT... – always the BUT.... and today, he is the BUTT END of the joke of the day.

    April 18, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  2. Katie B in NC

    Kudos to Candy Crowley for pressing Sen. McConnell on the issue. His refusal to give her a straight answer speaks volumes.

    April 18, 2010 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  3. Michael from Ventura

    Mitch McConnell couldn't explain his way out of a paper bag. What a TOOL.

    April 18, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  4. Me

    Time is not with Republicans, they are out of ideas and want to stay in the past–w/o understanding the new challenges to the nation.

    April 18, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  5. Liberal4Obama

    Lets see out of 40 Senators McConnell chose Cornyn the one that runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, one of the primary fundraising arms of the Republican Party.

    Neither McConnell nor Cornyn are members of the Banking Committee which is the one overseeing the legislation in question.

    So what could McConnell and Cornyn have been discussing, campaign contributions in exchange for derailing financial reform legislation perhaps? I'm not Sherlock Holmes but this is just... elemental my dear Watson.

    April 18, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. Jarod

    All Dems and Independents who havent been hoodwinked by the Tea Patsies and Rethugiclans... PLEASE VOTE IN NUMBERS THIS DECEMBER. This is the ONLY way we can get this liars to work for Americans again.... PLEASE VOTE!!!

    April 18, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  7. J G Hicks

    As an 83 year old white college grad female and EX Republican , I am ashamed and disgusted with the Republican partys Just Say No attitude. A good example of why both houses of congress need Term Limits. Do the Republicans truly believe that if they win a majority that the Democrats will not play the same game that they are now engaged in...Democrats too can Just Say No. What a mature way to run a government !

    April 18, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. LR

    "We are in the processs of gathering information from people all across the country, from Wall Street to Main Street to try to get advice about doing this right."

    No, you're not interested in doing it "right.". You're gathering information from Wall Street about how to best continue serving their interests, not ours. Financial reform is greatly needed and it's apparent whose team you are on, Sen. McConnell.

    April 18, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  9. west coast conserv

    The GOP is the Party of "NO", as in NO WAY are we going to allow socialist progressives to take over our republic. The United States of America has always been victorious over foreign invaders. B Hussein and his socialist followers will find that out this coming November. I hear they have openings in Russia, Cuba and China.....go try it over there.

    April 18, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  10. willard bullock

    I said word of Good blessing for mc connell that he is keep strongest fighting against demorctriac

    April 18, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  11. Future expat

    Have you noticed how the GOP/FOX/TEA crowd has tried to equate Obama to EVERY SINGLE enemy the US has had over the past century?


    Obama has been lumped in with all of these. It's much easier for these people to paint him as an "enemy" than to look objectively at their own beliefs. It's also probably frightening to know that five minutes of introspection would lead to the complete collapse of one's world view.

    April 18, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  12. Nick

    So when Obama meets with Big Pharma and the AMA behind closed doors, everything's kosher, but when the GOP meets with Wall Street CEOs, it's corruption to the extreme? That doesn't make any sense.

    Goldman Sachs came out in support of the legislation because they knew it would limit smaller competitors who will have difficulty competing under the new regulatory regime. Liberals are perpetually self defeating – if you want to limit corporate conglomeration, regulations are the worst way to do it, because the larger companies have all the lawyers, accountants, lobbyists and tax professionals money can buy while the smaller companies have much more difficulty or even go out of business.

    April 18, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  13. mike

    If Obama proposed an idea that the Republicans had originally proposed (aka. Health Care reform), they would still vote against it. They are clearly gambling that by blocking everything (and lying about it in the process) it will be good for them in November. Unfortunately, as dumb as the average American is, it will probably work.

    April 18, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. NC-Pub "no" more

    No, "Old McDonald" didn't explain his and Cornies visit with Wall Street. He double-talked Candy even after she persisted and asked the third time. He had no answer that he wanted anyone to hear. He is just plain full of it!

    April 18, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. Hammerer

    Obama has promised every bill he has backed would solve the economy and create jobs.

    April 18, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  16. ronalde

    mcconnell is lying,he couldn't keep a straight face on t.v. this morning flumbling for words that didn't make him sound stupid,i can't wait to hear their excuses for goldman sax and if they try to water down this bill Obama should veto it.

    April 18, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  17. Popster

    Wow! How many ways can you avoid a straight to the point question? I think we just seen at least 4 ways. And they are upset that the president called them out on it.

    I can just hear them in that meeting now, "Oh Wall Street, please don't take our money away, we really will block this bill". and that's when they stuck their hands out for money. Makes me sick and hopefully everyone else with any common sense.

    April 18, 2010 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  18. annie s

    I can only hope that every Democrat up for election uses Crowley's interview with McConnell in all of their advertising. It was almost embarrassing to hear this man lie and dodge answers. And it proved what 50% of us already knew – that the Republicans care ONLY about their rich corporate contributors.

    April 18, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  19. Larry

    The Republicans have become soooooo crooked, they seem incapable of seeing what the rest of us see

    They have been lying to the American people for so long, they actually seem to be believing their own tales these days

    It is absolutely DISGUSTING what they are and have been doing to this country

    If only I had the right broom, I'd sweep their lying butts into the streets of this country and let them find real jobs like the rest of us

    They would all starve for lack of any real abilities

    April 18, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  20. Tom in Cville

    Don't let facts get in the way of a good GOP bash. The $50 billion fund at the heart of this bill was opposed by Geithner in October since it will be used to bail out banks and allow them to take huge bets again, back stopped by the tax payer. So what's changed in the past 6 months? Let them go through bankruptcy like every other company.

    April 18, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  21. Former Texas Republican

    Without benefit of Frank Luntz's tutoring as to what sound bite McConnell should have used, he struck out on his own. Consequently, the feeble attempts of this dinosaur to answer simple questions from a reporter only highlighted his belief in the complete ignorance of the electorate.

    Having retired after 30 years with a District Attorney's office in Texas, and dealing with some capricious rulings when Cornyn was State Attorney General, it doesn't take a lot of imagination as to why Cornyn would be in a room with a bunch of bankers.

    April 18, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  22. PULEEEZZZ!! lets tell some truth

    OH BOO HOO the rich just dont have enough money.. I feel sooo bad for them. The corrupt money grabbers must pay for their crimes against America

    April 18, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  23. Jim in Georgia

    They Lie!
    If it's good for the country thay are not for it.

    April 18, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  24. Apparently not until 2013

    When does the post-partisan era begin?

    April 18, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  25. Barbara Diederich

    Kevin, you hit the nail on the head. Nothing can get done: the Democrats propose something and the Republicans say "no" before the Democrats can get the words out of their mouths. The Democrats do the same thing to the Republicans. The games they play are rediculous. As far as the financial mess, Carl, you can thank that wonderful genius, Barney Franks, and his cronnies for that. Bush didn't push very hard to stop that nonsense, so he has to take some of the blame, but the Republicans can't be blamed for everything. Bush worked very well with Ted Kennedy on the No Child Left Behind bill, so there was some bipartisanship going on during Bush's term. There won't be any during Obama's term (s) if both sides continue to be arrogant and pompous.

    April 18, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
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